Baby chocolate Oreo tea cakes with marbled chocolate cheesecake frosting

This recipe makes a lot (at least 18), so would be perfect for a bake sale or fund raising coffee morning.

Oreo cakes

I used the Master Class, non-stick, 12 hole mini sandwich tin for this recipe. It makes perfect cakes with straight sides and has loose bases, so every single cake comes out with no effort.  I got mine from Amazon here.

I once had a delicious cupcake at Starbucks that had a mini Oreo cookie on the top. The girl serving us was enthusing how pleased she was that they had started using the mini cookies, rather than half a normal sized one. I thought it was really nice and wanted to make my own version at home.

The cake recipe includes instant espresso powder which (as Ina says) brings out the chocolate flavour even more. The cakes by themselves are very moist, but the frosting is the star here.

I have seen many recipes online for oreo cupcakes with a lot of them using ground up oreos in the frosting. I’m not so keen on the little bits in the frosting, so decided that I would make a smooth icing with mine.

I then thought how good a cheesecake type frosting would be and because I couldn’t decide whether to do a white or a dark chocolate version, I decided to use both! I don’t have any duel colour piping bags, so just divided the frosting and put melted white chocolate in one half, melted dark chocolate in the other half and made delicious marbled chocolate cheesecake buttercream frosting.  These are very rich and indulgent, but very good with coffee for an occasional treat or for afternoon tea.

…unless you are my eldest son and can easily eat 3 or 4 before feeling a bit sick!

Oreo Cake

Cake ingredients:
400g plain/all-purpose flour
50g cocoa
2tbs instant espresso powder
350g golden caster sugar
2tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
½tsp salt
3 extra-large eggs
175g unsalted butter at room temperature
1tbs vanilla extract
150ml sour cream
130ml vegetable oil
300ml whole/full fat milk

Method:
Sift together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder, soda and salt in a large bowl.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attached, whip the softened butter with the sugar until light and fluffy – around 5 minutes.

Beat the eggs with the oil and milk and with the mixer still running, add to the butter and sugar until fully incorporated.

Then with the mixer on low speed, add all the dry ingredients until just mixed in.

Using an ice cream scoop, distribute the cake batter into the waiting tin and bake for around 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Repeat with the rest of the cake batter until you have 18 cakes. Leave to cool completely.

Marbled Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting:
360g room temperature cream cheese
360g icing sugar – sieved
120g softened butter
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp instant espresso powder
100g packet of good quality white chocolate – broken into smaller pieces
100g packet of good quality 70% cocoa solids chocolate – broken into smaller pieces

Method:
Melt the dark chocolate with the espresso powder in the microwave for 30 seconds and stir, then microwave again for 10 seconds, stirring and repeating until almost melted. The residual heat will continue to melt as you stir. Leave to cool and repeat with the white chocolate.

Beat the cream cheese with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the butter and continue whipping. Add in the vanilla and then on low speed, the sieved icing sugar.

Halve the mixture and place one half in a separate bowl.

In the mixer, add the cooled white chocolate and beat until light and fluffy. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with the dark chocolate.

For icing, you can either use a dual colour piping bag which is made for such a job, or, as I have done, you can just use a normal piping bag, fitted with a star nozzle, or even just with the end cut off. Fill one side with the white chocolate and the other with the dark chocolate and squish to remove any air pockets. It doesn’t have to be exact as you are going for a marbled effect.

Oreo cake closeup

Cut the cakes in half and pipe a little of the frosting on one half. Sandwich together with the other half and pipe more onto the top and adorn with a mini Oreo cookie.

Chipotle Chilli Grilled Salmon Kebabs

Grilled salmon skewers with a smoky and spicy marinade.  Served with a cooling mint and coriander yogurt dip, pita bread and salad.  Perfect for hot and spicy summer nights!

Salmon kebabs2

All of my family love salmon, so these go down really well and can be cooked on a griddle pan, the barbecue, or even on a lined baking sheet in the oven. You can up the spice levels by adding more of the chipotle marinade. The coriander/cilantro used in the yogurt dip is entirely optional. I love it, but the rest of the family – not so much!

As a contact lens wearer, I always use disposable latex gloves when chopping, or using any kind of chilli in a marinade. So much pain and the chilli lasts on your skin for hours, despite washing like Lady McBeth!

salmon kebab close

Salad:
Baby salad leaves
Handful of black olives
Hothouse cucumber slices
Small handful of cherry tomatoes – halved
Feta cheese, crumbled
Lemon wedges and warm pita to serve

Chipotle marinade:
2tbs prepared chipotle paste
Juice of 1 small lime
2tsp olive oil

Kebabs:
Around 400g/14oz Salmon cut into large cubes – this is enough for 2 hungry people
1-2 Courgettes/zucchini, halved down the middle and cut into chunks
1 yellow pepper, cut into large squares
Salt and pepper to season

Yogurt dip/dressing:
6tbs Greek yogurt
Small bunch of chopped mint and coriander/cilantro
Zest and juice of a small lemon
Pinch of salt and pepper

Mix together the chipotle paste, lime juice and olive oil and add to the salmon, turning to coat.  I use gloves and gently rub the marinade over the fish with my hands. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.

Method:
When you are ready to cook, pre-heat the griddle pan and assemble the salad ingredients on the plates. This is also a great barbecue recipe but just remember to soak any wooden skewers first. I use flat metal skewers so the salmon and vegetables don’t move around when I’m turning them.

Thread the fish and vegetables onto your skewers and season with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Place onto the hot grill pan or barbecue. They will cook very quickly – around 2-3 minutes per side.  If you are cooking in the oven.  Cook at 200°C/400°F. They will take around 12 minutes, depending on the size of the chunks of salmon, but keep an eye on them so that the salmon doesn’t overcook.

salmon kebab closeup

Serve over the salads with the yogurt, warm pita and lemon wedges and a little coriander sprinkled over the top (or not if you don’t like it!)

Stichelton & Smoked Bacon Salad

Stichelton is a delicious, unpasteurised blue cheese, made to the original Stilton recipe at the Welbeck Dairy in Nottinghamshire.  I first tried this at the School of Artisan Food on the Welbeck estate, at one of their amazing lunches during a baking course.

Stilton and bacon salad plate

I bought my cheese from the Welbeck farm shop, where I can easily spend way too much money as there are so many good things to buy!  I love it with the apple sourdough that I always buy a loaf of when I go there too.

Stilton and bacon salad

Blue cheese and bacon go so well together and with the addition of toasted pecans and a few tart, dried cranberries, this salad is one of my favourite lunches.  Sometimes I add grilled chicken for a substantial warm salad that is good any time of the year.  I serve this with a simple honey and mustard dressing

I usually use smoked streaky bacon for this salad, but I bought some black treacle cured, smoked back bacon today, which worked really well.

Stilton bacon salad closeup

This is enough for 1-2 people, but the quantities can easily be increased.

Ingredients:
Mixed salad leaves – baby leaves, spinach, Rocket/Arugula, Romaine – anything you like
4-6 slices of good quality smoked streaky bacon with the rind removed or 2-3 slices of black treacle cured smoky back bacon
Stichelton or Stilton blue cheese at room temperature with the rind removed
Red and yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
A handful of pecans, toasted in the oven for 5 minutes
A few craisins (dried cranberries)

Dressing:
1tsp Dijon mustard
1tsp Wholegrain mustard
2tsp Runny honey
4tsp Extra virgin olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper if desired

Pre heat the oven to 220°C/430°F

Line a baking sheet with foil and place the bacon on the sheet. Cook for around 10 minutes or until crisp and chop into rough pieces.

Arrange the leaves, warm pecans, cranberries and tomatoes on the plate and whisk the ingredients for the dressing until you have a nice, slightly thickened consistency.

Stilton bacon closeup

Toss the salad gently in the dressing. Break the Stichelton into large crumbles and top with the hot bacon, toss gently once more and serve immediately.